Monday, October 19, 2009

Prescription Savings

A good way to reduce your grocery costs is by transferring prescriptions. This past year I've been able to transfer my prescriptions from pharmacy to pharmacy every month in order to take advantage of some free money towards my groceries. My family as a whole has five prescriptions, and we have to spend the money on them every month no matter where we get them. So I choose to transfer and get the free money towards groceries and other necessities. There are some downsides to this. First, it's a pain in the you know what. You can't just call the little number on the bottle and have the prescription ready for you when you get there. You need to take the old bottle to the new pharmacy, then wait around for them to do their thing. Plus, you often get pharmacists that are mad that you're taking advantage of those offers. I used to feel bad about it. Until Meijer Pharmacy had a whole bunch of coupons in the Entertainment Book last year for it. The coupons were valid every other month. So that tells me not only do people do it regularly, Meijer EXPECTS that people do it. They were encouraging people to do it. So after that, I no longer feel bad. So it's just a matter of dealing with the inconvenience to myself. And the snotty pharmacists, who cares? If their company is releasing the coupon, then they have to deal with it. Not my fault. I'm just taking advantage of a good thing.

So, there are a few rules to be aware of when transferring prescriptions. First, be prepared to wait. Also, be sure to go to have it filled when the last pharmacy you used will still be open. The new pharmacy needs to call the old one to transfer it. If you don't want to wait, you should be able to drop it off one day and pick it up the next.

Another big important thing is that you have to be organized. All but one of our prescriptions, if we have to go a day without, then we'll live. So I have a bit of room with that. But it's important to know what you need when you need it and from where you need it. It's easy to get confused. I keep all of my info listed on a calendar.

The last thing to keep track of is the rules for the different stores, and the coupons that are available.

Rite Aid - printable coupon on their website, can only transfer two in a six month period

Target - can transfer as much as you want, but you have to have a valid coupon. The coupons are released regularly, but there is some time between them where the last coupon has expired and the newest coupon hasn't been released yet. It's also difficult to find these coupons in the store. So be sure to save them from your Sunday papers. Sometimes you can ask a cashier, and they will give you one from the ad they keep at their register.

Meijer - their pharmacy coupons print off from the catalinas at the registers. The coupons are readily available if you shop there. It's also nice because you can do your grocery shopping while waiting on your prescription.

CVS - they sometimes have coupons available, but they usually aren't very high value. On the other hand, they do accept competitors coupons. So take in a Meijer or a Target coupon when you transfer. I personally don't like CVS, so I don't go there often. I don't know if there are any rules as to how often you can transfer with a coupon.

Walgreens - Every once in a while they have coupons in their ad. These are great because they have them readily available at the front of the store, and they are usually valid for several months. I try to get enough coupons saved up to last for the entire time period that they are valid. I used to transfer every other month, but I was told once that I could only do it every six months. I'm not sure what the official rule is.

K-mart - There are sometimes coupons available in their ad. I don't so much like using Kmart for this though. All other pharmacies that I've ever used have had a flat amount coupon. No matter what the price of your prescription, you get the certain amount in a coupon or gift card. At Kmart they only let you have the same amount that you paid for your prescription. In reality, it makes sense and I can't blame them. At the same time, Kmart has a pretty high markup on their merchandise, and it's not as beneficial for me when I can go somewhere else and not have that rule.

Kroger - every once in a while I've come across coupons for the Kroger pharmacy. I've usually gotten them in the mail when they send out coupons and things for Kroger card members. Very rare, but I certainly use them when I get them.

Personally, I usually transfer back and forth between Meijer and Target. Just because it's easiest for me. Both Meijer and Target are the only ones that let you use the coupons on NEW prescriptions. But with five prescriptions a month, this usually gets me between $50 and $125 of free money towards groceries each month! This method isn't right for everyone. Sometimes it's cheaper to get the prescription through mail order. Or if you don't have insurance, then your medication may be cheap enough at one place to cancel out whatever savings you would get from the coupon. But my insurance doesn't give me a big enough discount with mail order, and my copays are the same no matter where I go.

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